BEIJING – The National People’s Congress of China approved the building of Chinese security controls at Hong Kong’s first bullet train station, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Thursday.
Hong Kong opponents of the plan consider the mainland decision to build checkpoints in their high-speed train stations as another example of Beijing’s interference in its territory, a Special Administrative Region of China.
China’s Congress ratified on Wednesday the agreement signed on Nov. 18 by the autonomous government of Hong Kong and that of the neighboring province of Guangzhou. The deal stipulates that passport and customs controls be established at the West Kowloon station in Hong Kong, from which the trains will depart to mainland China.
The Chinese railway network currently only reaches the de facto border between China and Hong Kong, in the city of Shenzhen, but the new high-speed line between Guangzhou and the former British colony will change this situation.
Baggage inspections and quarantine measures will also be carried out, according to the measures approved by the National People’s Congress of China, at the new station, which is expected to open in the third quarter of 2018.
Critics of the legal change maintain that this is another example of China’s reduction of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the one country, two systems arrangement.
The high-speed line will also connect Hong Kong, which this year marked 20 years since its return to Chinese sovereignty, with the Asian giant’s bullet train network of more than 20,000 kilometers.